The International Center is pleased to announce that Cal Poly Biological Sciences Professor Nishi Rajakaruna has been appointed as a Fulbright US Scholar Alumni Ambassador for 2024-2026. The Fulbright Scholar program is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Fulbright US Scholar Alumni Ambassadors serve as official representatives of the Fulbright Scholar Program and assist with outreach efforts alongside campus scholar liaisons. During his tenure, Rajakaruna will help in promoting the Fulbright US Scholar Program to faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows and other professionals interested in educational and cultural exchange.

Rajakaruna has received two Fulbright US Scholar Awards to date. His first was to his motherland Sri Lanka (2016-2017) where he carried out research on the island’s serpentine-associated vegetation in collaboration with local botanists. During his most recent award, he visited South Africa (2022-2023) where he co-taught a course in geoecology at North-West University, Potchefstroom and carried out collaborative research on plants and lichens of rock outcrops, including plants that are able to hyperaccumulate heavy metals with potential use in soil remediation efforts. During his Fulbright travels, Rajakaruna visited high schools, universities, and US cultural and informational spaces to promote opportunities for higher education and research in the United States. He also visited India and Madagascar with funding from the Fulbright Regional Travel Program Grants to establish collaborative research in geoecology.

Rajakaruna is a strong advocate for the program, and welcomes colleagues interested in exploring this unique opportunity to connect with him about its impact and his personal experience. “I’m excited to help galvanize interest in the US Scholar program and look forward to the new possibilities for international collaboration this could bring to Cal Poly.”

Faculty interested in the Fulbright program are invited to apply ahead of the US Scholar application deadline of September 16, 2024. For more information, visit:, contact Nishi Rajakaruna or Cari Vanderkar, Assistant Vice Provost for International Programs and campus Fulbright Scholar liaison.